Vectors’ control is an essential part of strategies against Xylella fastidiosa. Although “aggressive” measures to limit the expansion of X. fastidiosa may be necessary for new outbreaks, low-impact actions are especially desirable in areas where eradication is no longer feasible.
That approach also reduces environmental externalities, improving the level of social acceptance. The design of a low impact strategy depends on a substantial knowledge investment on vectors and agroecosystems. The study precisely provides a thorough description of the host-plants selection and exploitation by spittlebugs in two olive agroecosystems with different characteristics.
Field surveys took place in 2016–2018 in four olive orchards located in Apulia and Liguria regions. Albeit both in Italy, the two regions feature different climates and olive cropping conditions. During the survey researchers collected spittlebug of three species: Philaenus spumarius, Neophilaenus campestris, and Aphrophora alni. P. spumarius, the renown vector of Xylella fastidiosa in olive orchards, was the predominant species in both the agroecosystems.
Results unravel aspects of the plant selection by both nymphal and adult spittlebugs. The host-plant association depends not only on the insect’s preference but also on the ground cover floral composition. Hence, researchers suggest examples of low impact vector control strategies, such as targeted soil tilling/mowing of specific areas where spittlebugs nymphs tend to aggregate; and shaping ground cover composition close to susceptible crops to limit the presence of spittlebugs.
DOI https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11020130 | via MDPI